Book: Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy by Cathy O’Neil (Crown, September 2016)
Book review bottom line: Definitely go read this book, despite the fact that it does convey a certain oversimplifying, “black-and-white” position.
Related reading: I devoted all of Chapter two of Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die (2013; 2016) to ethical issues that arise in predictive analytics’ deployment. Parts of that chapter, along with my article “The Risk of Prejudice in Computerized Prediction” in Profiles in Diversity Journal, cover some of the same topics of concern in Weapons of Math Destruction.
Cathy O’Neil’s New York Times Bestseller Weapons of Math Destruction belongs squarely in the “must read” category. In this first-of-its-kind book, the author, an industry insider and experienced expert, thoroughly covers the sociological downside of data science.
In the world of big data, there’s a lot of music to be faced. With all its upside, data science’s deployment risks being prejudicial, predatory, exploitative, buggy, blindly trusted, and secretive. And it has the potential to magnify the consumer’s personal economic struggle rather than remedy it.
These risks permeate across the field. The book’s broad coverage includes examples from all the main business application areas to which predictive models commonly apply: marketing, online ads, credit scoring, insurance, workforce analytics, law enforcement, and political campaigns.
By providing such a uniquely comprehensive treatment of data’s downside, this book addresses two dire needs: increasing awareness and opening the door to prolific discussion.
Click here to access Eric Siegel’s full book review in Analytics Magazine (above are only the first four of the review’s 21 paragraphs)
Eric Siegel, Ph.D., founder of the Predictive Analytics World conference series and executive editor of The Predictive Analytics Times, makes the how and why of predictive analytics understandable and captivating. He is the author of the award-winning Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die, a former Columbia University professor who used to sing to his students, and renowned speaker, educator, and leader in the field.
Eric has appeared on Al Jazeera America, Bloomberg TV and Radio, Business News Network (Canada), Fox News, Israel National Radio, NPR Marketplace, Radio National (Australia), and TheStreet. He and his book have been featured in Businessweek, CBS MoneyWatch, Contagious Magazine, The European Business Review, The Financial Times, Forbes, Forrester, Fortune, Harvard Business Review, The Huffington Post, The New York Review of Books, Newsweek, Quartz, Salon, Scientific American, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and WSJ MarketWatch. Follow him at @predictanalytic